After spending the holidays at home a year ago, Iowa football players will unwrap some serious bowl swag this year.
Many of the gifts the Hawkeyes and their Outback Bowl opponent, LSU, will receive for participating in the New Year’s Day game in Tampa are traditional in nature.
The Hawkeyes will receive their choice of electronics and enjoy gifts of jewelry and food among the rewards for an 8-4 season that has led Iowa to its 11th bowl game in the past 13 years.
Under NCAA rules, each bowl is allowed to spend up to $550 on gifts for 125 participants per school. Schools can, and usually do, purchase additional gift packages so that nearly all members of the program including student managers and trainers, receive the same rewards for the season.
In addition, participants can receive an additional $400 in rewards from their schools and up to $400 from the conference as recognition for playing in conference title games and bowl games.
For the Hawkeyes, this year’s gifts from the Outback Bowl include a $150 Best Buy gift card, a Fossil watch, a cap, a Jostens ring and fittingly, an Outback Steakhouse gift card.
Gift cards and gear such as sweats and shirts are among items Iowa players will receive as part of the gifts from the school.
“We try to provide practical gifts that players would want along with some mementos that they can keep for the rest of their lives to remember their participation in the game,’’ Outback Bowl president John McVay said. “We look for a good mix.’’
In its annual survey of bowl swag, Street & Smith’s Sports Business Journal illustrates the variety of bounty that participants in this year’s bowls will collect.
Many bowls continue to feature gift suites, rooms set up at team hotels where players can shop for gifts of their choice within the confines of a specified dollar amount.
From the latest in electronics — some of which may not be available in stores yet — to backpacks, beanies and sunglasses, players have plenty to pick from.
Among the items making its debut this year is Southern Motion’s Viva, described as a powered home theater recliner which has two ports that can charge mobile devices.
The chair, along with a larger, more traditional recliner, will be part of gift suites available at 15 bowl games this year. A representative of the company that puts the suites together told the Sports Business Journal that it expects players and coaches to order as many as 800 chairs among other items.